Court Opens Way for Anheuser's Budweiser in Hungary

A Hungarian appeals court has ruled that Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (BUD) can sell its Budweiser brand in Hungary, the St. Louis-based brewer said Wednesday.

The ruling is part of a larger legal fight in several European courts between Anheuser-Busch and the Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar. At issue is the famous Budweiser brand, which both companies claim a historical right to use. The Czech brewery was founded in 1895 in a town called "Budweiser" by its German immigrants, while Anheuser-Busch launched its own U.S. Budweiser brand in 1876.

The Hungarian court upheld a lower court ruling that said the Czech brewer didn't have exclusive use of the Budweiser brand name.

The Czech company had argued that the name was protected because it described a specific place the beer was brewed, in the same way Greek Feta cheese can only be produced in certain regions.

The court ruled that "Bud" didn't refer to the Czech company's hometown, which is officially named Ceske Budejovice, according to a statement from Anheuser-Busch.

"This decision provides us with the legal backing to launch our flagship brand under the 'Bud' name in Hungary and reinforces our commitment to protect our famous trademarks throughout the world," Anheuser-Busch International president Stephen Burrows said in a news release.

Budejovicky Budvar did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment Wednesday. But the company has said previously that its legal fight with the biggest U.S. brewer has hurt its ability to introduce products into new markets.

The Hungarian court ruling comes just a week after the Supreme Court of Sweden found no reason to hear an appeal filed by Budejovicky Budvar that could have repealed a ruling that the Czech brewer couldn't use the name "Budweiser Budvar" in Sweden.